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Water Wednesday Recap – How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel

A great way to save water, and money on your water bills, is to build your own rain barrel to capture rainwater. Last Water Wednesday, Tina McIntyre, the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent in UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, and Krista Stump, the Natural Resources Agent in UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, gave us an informative talk about rain barrels.

A rain barrel used to water plants at the Indigo Green Store in Gainesville, Florida. Gardening, watering plants, sustainable living, UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

“When you install a rain barrel, you are implementing three out of the nine Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) principles; those include watering efficiently, preventing stormwater runoff, and protecting the waterfront.” Ms. Tina said, “If you live in an HOA, we encourage you to reach out to them to see if they have any requirements for color or location. They do have to allow FFL adjustments because it is the law, but it is your responsibility to check with them for any necessary approval. To obtain a rain barrel, try checking with a local drum or barrel distributor in your area to find a food-grade barrel.”

What do I need to build a rain barrel?
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Drill
  • 15/16 drill bit
  • Silicone
  • 3/4” inch spicket and rain overflow valve
  • Mesh screening and scissors
  • One bungee cord long enough to fit around the diameter of the top of the barrel
  • Corrugated gutter converter
  • Metal leaf catch, a level
  • Pavers to elevate the barrel
How do I install my rain barrel?
  • Rake and level the area where you get the most rain from your gutter system
  • Cut the gutter and remove it but do not discard it because you will need it if a hurricane comes
  • Lay the pavers “Jenga style” to create the foundation
  • Place the barrel on top
  • Install the gutter and the leaf catch
  • Secure the screen nice and tight at the top
Can I use my rain barrel to water my vegetable garden?

The University of Florida and other institutions agree that rainwater collected off a roof structure should not be used to irrigate edible plants without treating or purifying the water first. Generally speaking, since this water has run off your roof it may be best to stick to using it to water non-edible plants.

To learn some commonly asked questions about rain barrel installation and maintenance, please click this link: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/barrels.htm

To watch the Water Wednesday recording:

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